Sylvester Stallone Offers Update About Getting The Rights To Rocky

Sylvester Stallone in Rocky
(Image credit: United Artists)

Sylvester Stallone has created some of the most memorable characters in the history of action movie cinema, but without question his greatest role has been Rocky Balboa. Stallone wrote, directed, and starred in the first Rocky film, which was both a critical and commercial success. Rocky has become a massive franchise, one that Stallone apparently does not own any part of.

Stallone starred in six Rocky films, and appeared in two of the more recent Creed films, but the actor admitted a few years ago that while he may have created Rocky, he doesn’t own even a piece of the character. Stallone has made his desire to have even a small percentage of Rocky known publicly, but the actor recently told THR that he doesn’t expect to ever get any of the rights. Stallone explained…

No. It’s never gonna happen. It was a deal that was done unbeknownst to me by people that I thought were close to me and they basically gave away whatever rights I would have had. At the time I was so excited to be working and I didn’t understand this is a business. Who knew Rocky would go on for another 45 years? I’ve never used one [line of dialogue] from anyone else – and the irony is that I don’t own any of it. The people who have done literally nothing control it.

When Sylvester Stallone came up with Rocky he was essentially unknown in Hollywood, and he has said that in order to get the movie made, and to do it the way that he wanted, he had to basically do whatever the studio wanted him to do. 

In a social media post this past summer Stallone tore into producer Irwin Winkler pretty hard over the fact that he would not hand over some of the rights. Stallone says here that apparently there was interest in doing another Rocky movie, and he asked for a share of the rights going forward as part of the deal. It seems no agreement could be reached. 

Following Creed II Sylvester Stallone announced that he was officially done playing Rocky Balboa, and while, at the time it sounded like the actor was simply ready to hang it up, it sounds here like the main reason Rocky is not going to be back in Creed III has more to do with Stallone not wanting to continue to play the role and build the franchise for the current rights holders if he is not one of them. 

As Stallone says, at the time, there was no way to know that Rocky would become such a cultural touchstone and become a massive franchise. Stallone has certainly made money from Rocky, the fact that Stallone has been paid for the work that he has done seems to be the primary argument made by those that currently hold the rights to the character. But Rocky is certainly worth a lot of money, and with the Creed franchise continuing with next year’s Creed III, and talks of a Drago spinoff series,  it will seemingly only grow from here.  

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.